Saturday, April 1, 2017

Cranberry pecan biscotti

Based on this almond biscotti recipe:

I consider this relatively healthy because it's only 2/3 cup a sugar spread over 16 slices and contains no butter. I read somewhere that real Italian biscotti should not contain butter; that butter is an American modification. Correct me if I'm wrong. I had XL instead of just large eggs at home, so I substituted a flaxseed egg for the other egg, which adds another healthier substitution without seriously compromising taste or texture. Also, if you use walnuts instead of pecans, you add omega-3 fatty acids to make it even healthier.

Cranberry Pecan Biscotti (makes ~12-16 biscotti)

1 large egg
just under 2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs ground flaxseed + 3 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans (and walnuts, opt)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (make sure they are still dried yet moist, not hard and dry)


  1. If pecans are not yet toasted: toast pecans on skillet over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Let cool then chop.
  2. Mix flaxseed and water in a small bowl and let sit for a 3-5 minutes to thicken.
  3. Mix the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Beat egg and sugar till turns lighter in color. Beat in flaxseed water. Beat till light colored and thick.
  5. Fold the wet into the dry ingredients until incorporated.
  6. Fold in the nuts and cranberries.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet or lightly grease the cookie sheet.
  8. Gather the dough (it will be sticky!) and place in a log-shape on the center of the parchment paper. Use a spoon to smooth out the dough into a longer log with even sides. You may use the parchment paper to help shape the log.
  9. Based on the recipe, you can bake a log that is about 12 inches long by 3.5 inches wide for 25 minutes.
  10. Remove and let cool for 8-10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 deg Fahrenheit.
  11. Slice into about 16 slices. Place slices cut-side down on the cookie sheet and bake for another 10 minutes. Flip over and bake another 10 minutes.
  12. Remove, cool at least 5 minutes and enjoy!
  • Ice with a simple vanilla, milk or lemon icing 
  • Melt dark chocolate chips and dip half of the biscotti or the top side of the biscotti in the dark chocolate and let harden
  • Eat with coffee or milk

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My family has been eating through our bananas too fast lately! My sister and her boyfriend consume almost all of them when they go surfing. Sadly, that leaves me infrequently with browned bananas. Luckily, this week, I had two laying around and searched the wonderful World Wide Web for a different way to use them instead of my usual fallback, the Stevia-sweetened Banana Bread.

I came across this fantastic-looking banana oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Chefsavvy. I chose this because the photo looked great and there was only 1/4 cup butter for 2 dozen cookies! Relatively healthy and easy, so I opted to try this. Plus, my co-worker's been subtly (not, haha) trying to get me to bake cookies and bring them into work. Last week, I tried these healthy oil and butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe from HEB but was underwhelmed. They were too cakey and spread out too far, but that could have been because I didn't have rolled oats so replaced them with ground steel cut oats. Anyhow, this recipe is a show-stopper. I did not have brown sugar at home so I used molasses, and then added some ground steel cut oats because the batter was a little sticky. Everyone at work really liked it.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 20-24 cookies
adapted from
1 medium banana, mashed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Just under 1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup ground steel-cut oats (not exact, pour some steel-cut oats in a coffee/spice grinder or food processor and process till somewhat fine - not as fine as flour)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit. Prepare 2 baking sheets with lightly greased parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat the banana, butter, sugar, and molasses till thoroughly mixed. Beat in the egg and vanilla. 
3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
4. Fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Stir in the dark chocolate chips and ground steel-cut oats.
5. Place rounded tablespoon scoops of dough on the parchment paper. Make sure to place about 2" apart. Staggering helps.

Tokyo, Japan Trip Sept 2017 Part 1

[Delayed post back from September when I visited Esteban in Japan...]

Hello, world! Or, konnichiwa! I just returned from one jam-packed sightseeing week in Japan and can't wait to recount my experiences there. To tell the truth, I came back to LA and have been waking up early (4 or 5 am each day) due to jetlag. It's been so hard this week getting over my jetlag and trying to work.  I got back around 6:30 pm PST on Sunday after a nauseating 10 hour flight and my shuttle never arrive so I ended up walking to get my car, which really tired me out (Airport Express is a terrible terrible shuttle service!!!). Getting back last night, I went to bed aroud 10:30 pm and was hoping I'd just sleep until 7 or 8 am when I have to get up for work. Ah well, hope I can function today at work, lol.

Anyhow, I went to Tokyo last week because my Esteban was there for work for three weeks. His second week there was more free for sightseeing activities, so I went over during that time. Buying my tickets last minute, I got a pretty decent price flight for a direct flight to Haneda airport: about $800 something after taxes and fees. The flight was on Japan Airlines, operated by American Airlines. I left Friday night September 16, arrived Saturday night September 17, and then left Monday September 26 at 1 am to arrive back in LA on Sunday Sept 25. It's cool; it's like traveling in time. Most of the time I was there, it was raining because Japan was being hit by a typhoon. Luckily, Tokyo was not hit by the worst of it, but it did make for some lousy weather and drab photos. Nevertheless, Tokyo was a blast. Below is a preview of things I did the first three days:

Friday, September 16
Fly from LAX to Haneda Airport, 10-11 hour flight on Japan Airlines.
Extensive movie list. Crappy American style food.
 Saturday, September 17
Arrived in Tokyo around 10 pm and went to sleep (stayed at the Tokyo Dome Hotel). First time taking the Japanese subway. Pretty cool.
Get a PASMO card to use all over the Tokyo subway and train system. Easy to use and recharge!
Sunday, September 18
Went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Edmont Hotel. First shopping experience at Family mart.
But a small preview of the awesome food and drinks for sale at Family Mart! Awesome convenience store.

Took the train to Asakusa, famous for its Senso-ji Temple, a Buddhist temple with (I think) the largest red lantern in the world, and for its shopping streets.
Sensoji Temple
Esteban and I wandering the streets of Asakusa, looking for some good deals!

Eating some izakaya (Japanese small plates) in Asakusa
We then wandered to Akihabara, which was said to be known as the place that sells a bunch of home and electronics good, and a center for anime and manga items. I did not see that much anime and manga stuff, but it was an interesting street of shopping, including some fresh food and fish vendors. Next to Akihabara is Ueno Park, which is a massive park that houses some temples and museums including the Tokyo National Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art. We did not make it far into the park before we headed home.

Fields of lilies near Shinobazunoike Bentendo
Vending machines in Tokyo are legendary! For less than 200 yen you can get coffees, teas, waters, energy drinks, ice cream, and snacks. They are always within less than 1 block of one another!
Returning back to the hotel, we went for dinner at a random ramen shop nearby. A great hole in the wall.  It was called Ramen Tanaka and was my favorite ramen of all the places we went to in Tokyo.
Vending machine to put in your order. We can't read any of it, lol, but luckily there were some photos to help us out. Ticket comes out and you give it to the guy working.

Delivious pork ramen with nori and a cute egg! Superb!

The next days of adventuring in Japan will be dispersed between the occasional food posts. Stay tuned!